“What Child Is This?”
United Methodist Hymnal – #219
So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh, come,
peasant, king, to own him; . . .
“You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry can do with a new pipe. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. Its his birthday we’re celebrating.” So goes the ending sermon in the final scene of The Bishop’s Wife. It follows the decision by a wealthy woman to donate her millions to help the poor, rather than build a grand cathedral. It ends with the plea for “loving kindness, warm hearts, and the outstretched hand of tolerance.” Words as appropriate today as they were 71 years ago. The giving of gifts has become a huge part of our Christmas celebrations. Now understand, I’m not knocking gifts. Time spent finding just the right gift is time allowing us to focus fully on our colleagues, friends, and families. The perfect gift shows that someone else gave real thought to our likes and needs. There is a school of thought that the giving of gifts began with the Magi. But it’s the “peasant, king” part that truly reveals the meaning of Christmas. Peasant, kings, and everyone in between, coming to the manger to worship the baby. No one is excluded, no one is turned away. The stable is a welcoming place where all can kneel, and pay homage, regardless of their station. I could print Dayspring’s Welcome statement here. How nice to think of Dayspring as open and welcoming as that stable.
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer
slave or free, there is no longer male and female;
for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Compassionate God, you see us all as your beloved children, equal in love and privilege. Yet even with your example, we are still tempted to draw lines, separating and excluding many of our brothers and sisters for weak and selfish reasons. As you see us all the same, help us to put aside our petty prejudice and bias, and create one world, grounded in love and respect. Amen.